Meet Me for Coffee? Not in 1942


Making someone a cup of coffee in the early 1940s would have been an act of real friendship. As a result of World War II economies, coffee was rationed for over a year in the U.S., starting on November 29, 1942. Seventy-eight years ago today, on July 28, coffee rationing ended. Now that would have been a day of celebration for me!

Sugar, fats, and other items were also rationed during the war, but coffee rationing would have been a trial for me. I go to sleep at night thinking of my first cup of coffee in the morning, and it never disappoints. People managed coffee rationing, as we always do, with substitutes, weaker coffee, bartering, and of course, cheating. The ration amount was one pound of coffee over a five week period. Yikes!

People have loved coffee for centuries and across all nations. Here’s a German ode to coffee from the 1700s:

Ei! wie schmeckt der Coffee süße,

Lieblicher als tausend Küsse,

Milder als Muskatenwein.

Coffee, Coffee muss ich haben,

Und wenn jemand mich will laben,

Ach, so schenkt mir Coffee ein!

(Oh! How sweet coffee does taste,

Better than a thousand kisses,

Milder than muscat wine.

Coffee, coffee, I've got to have it,

And if someone wants to perk me up, *

Oh, just give me a cup of coffee!)

Although I am happy to drink coffee alone, it’s even nicer to share a cup with a friend. The social connectedness of coffee is another one of its pleasures. It is interesting to note that as we lose other fibers of social connectedness with an increase in living alone, more individualistic natures, digital social media, and now Covid-19, we’ve seen the invention and rise of the Keurig coffeemaker. Single-cup coffeemakers herald a new era in psychological health, and to me, it is not a positive one. Coffee-drinking, besides the obvious benefits of a caffeine boost, is anchored in the inherent sharing of the coffee and the chatter.

Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm has a funny joke about a marriage-ending fight because he drank tea when his wife drank coffee. He didn’t think it mattered what was in his cup; it drove her nuts they weren’t sharing the same drink.

Ok, time for my first morning cup of coffee. Wish you could join me!

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Kathryn Hauer, a Certified Financial Planner™, adjunct professor, and financial literacy educator has written numerous articles and several books including the “11-Step, DIY, Comprehensive Financial Plan Workbook” and “Financial Advice for Blue Collar America.” She works to help clients and readers understand and act on complex financial information to keep them and their money safe. She functions as a strong advocate and guiding light for her clients as they move through a murky and unfamiliar financial world. Learn more at her website.

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